The search has been called off for Benito Flores, aged 43, who was swept out to sea during a baptism on a Guadalupe beach in California on Sunday. He was helping his cousin Pastor Maurigro Cervantes, of the Jesus Christ Light of the Sky church, who performs two or three such ceremonies each year. About 25 people were attending the ceremony and witnessed a big wave knock the pastor, Benito and the person being baptised off their feet. Two of them managed to save themselves, but Benito was caught by another wave and swept out to sea. He has not been seen since.
Yes, the founder of the church of the anti-gay Westboro Baptist Church, famous for picketing funerals, kicked the bucket this week. There will not be any pickets at his funeral because he is not having one. He was voted out of the church some time ago, supposedly for wanting to take a softer line. It’s like he was bitten by the monster he created. The church gained notoriety in 1998 after protesting at the funeral of a gay student, Matthew Shepard, who had been brutally tortured and murdered. They started picketing the funerals of soldiers in 2005 and claimed that every US catastrophe, including 9/11 was a punishment from God for accepting homosexuality. They called for all gays and lesbians to be killed. In 2007, they featured in a BBC documentary, “The Most Hated Family in America”. Ironically, the work of this group has done more to promote tolerance by demonstrating just how bad intolerance can be. Would there have been a statue erected in memory of Matthew Shepard if they had not intervened? Perhaps they are secretly trying to promote tolerance towards gay people. The lord works in mysterious ways.
Sarah Ege a 33 year old mother in Wales has been sentenced to Life this week after beating her 7 year old son to death because he failed to memorise a section of the Quran. Her son, Yaseen, was enrolled in a program in the mosque to memorise some of the Quran and was facing an exam when the incident occurred in July 2010. He had been repeatedly beaten with a stick over a three month period and finally collapsed before his mother after receiving abdominal injuries. After the death, his body was burned and a room set on fire in an attempt to cover up the crime. Sarah later confessed saying she heard voices from the devil, but later withdrew the confession saying her husband and his family made her do it. Her husband was cleared of failing to prevent the death last December. Sarah will serve a minimum of 17 years, minus the 2.5 years she has already spent in secure psychiatric units since her arrest.
A man claiming to be the Lord’s Warrior, who beat a man to death with a fence post two years ago, has been found not guilty due to metal illness in Canada. Kevin Larry Michalchuk was staying with a friend at the time and after saying he was Jesus and emptying the contents of his friend’s fridge onto the driveway was asked to leave. His friend called a neighbour, Peppino Bassani, to let him know what was happening and also notified the police. Bassani did not wait for the police, but went out to check his horses and found that Michalchuk had released them from their coral. Michalchuk believed Bassani was a child molester and animal abuser, so presumably in his mind he was saving the horses. A quarrel ensued and Michalchuk hit Bassani with a broken fence post. He fell to the ground and Michalchuk continued hitting him until he stopped moving and then hid the body under some straw. When the police arrived he was wearing a balaclava and carrying a pail and a rope. He yelled that he was the son of God at police and said “I am Jesus. I am the decider. You do not decide.” Two hours after he was taken away, Bassani’s daughter found the body near some grazing horses. After admitting the killing, Michalchuk told police that Bassani had taken the Lord’s name in vain, which had angered him. “God had chosen him to die”, he told police. He also claimed that Bassani said he was Santa Clause and would climb down chimneys, steal kids and eat them. He added that the horses were happier now that Bassani was dead. It looks like Michalchuk will be confined to Alberta Hospital for a long time.
Mark Randall Wolford, a pastor at the Apostolic House of the Lord Jesus, died in Bluefield Regional Medical Center earlier this week after being bitten by a Timber Rattle Snake during a religious service last Sunday. He chose to follow in his father’s footsteps and became a Serpent Handler, even though he also died following a snake bite in 1983. This rare branch of religion is derived from Mark 16:18 in the Bible:
They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.
The website for Holiness Snake Handlers notes that the practice is not to be confused with secular snake handlers, snake charmers or Hindu snake enticers. The site goes on to explain that Jesus instructed the disciples in Serpent Handling, but this has been ignored by most Christians today, because Satan is the God of this world and controls 99% of religions. True Christians should of course handle serpents and drink poison and not use reasoning as an excuse. Well isn’t that true of most religions? Too much reasoning can damage your faith. It’s better to be apathetic towards it.
Have you been following the fascinating trial of the Lotter family in South Africa? It seems that the daughter, Nicolette, thought she was possessed by a tokoloshe (Zulu demon) that raped her every night. Along came a boyfriend, Mathew Naidoo, claiming to be the third son of God. He had sex with her and banished the demon. God then spoke to Nicolette and her brother Hardus, through Mathew, telling them to steal money from their parents. He then told them that God wanted their parents dead. Hardus, after persuasion from his sibling and a punching from Mathew, eventually agreed to help kill his parents. They planned to use a stun gun to knock them out and then inject air into their veins to induce a heart attack. However, it all went wrong. Hardus ended up strangling his father with an electric cable. He hit his mother with his fists and sat on her for about 15 minutes while his sister went to get a knife. When Nicolette came back she repeatedly stabbed her mother until she was dead, telling her it was God’s will. God then told them to clean the carpet and computer so they wouldn’t be caught. In a final twist Nicolette and her boyfriend Mathew tried to get Hardus to commit suicide, which would have left the couple free to collect the inheritance. However, the two siblings survived and they and Mathew are now all charged with the double murder of the Lotter parents. I’ll say it again. Don’t list to crazy Gods.
We told you last week about the man who ripped his eyes out during a mass, because God told him to do so. At the end of last week a French secondary school maths teacher set herself alight in the playground. When alarmed students rushed to put the flames out, she cried “No, God told me to do it”. Unfortunately, despite being airlifted to a hospital in Montpellier, she later died. Selena Gomez is the latest victim of God’s whispers. She has taken out a restraining order against a stalker, Thomas Brodnicki, who claims he is going to kill her after talking to God. He was picked up last month after allegedly threatening to scratch people’s eyes out. Not surprisingly he has a history of mental illness. At least when God talks to me, He does it in a dream and I always tell Him that I don’t believe in Him. If you hear voices telling you to do bad stuff, then don’t listen. It tends to end up badly.
Isaiah Kalebu, in his murder and rape trial, has told the court that he was told by the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob to attack enemies. Earlier in the week, the surviving victim of the attack, identified Kalebu as the man who broke into the home she shared with her partner Teresa Butz, two years ago. She told the jury that he tortured and sexually abused the two women before slashing one girls throat and stabbing Teresa in the heart. Teresa jumped out a window and ran away naked and screaming, but later died. Her partner managed to escape and later identified Kalebu. Due to previous outbursts in the courtroom, Kalebu appeared strapped into a wheelchair wearing white mitts to prevent him from attacking others. He was also connected to an electric shock device so that he could be zapped if he became uncontrollable. What a charming man.
If a fourteen year old girl has sex with her forty year old male cousin, who is to blame? If members of the man’s family then beat up the fourteen year old, what should happen next? The reports are confusing, she may have been fifteen and she may have been having an affair or it may have been rape. The girl, named Hena, lived in Bangladesh, so she was handed over to the village court, or Sharia Committee, who locked her up. The following day she was accused of immoral sexuality before marriage and sentenced to 100 lashes. After almost 80 lashes she passed out and was taken to the local hospital where she died days later.
Last July the Bangladesh government outlawed such fatwas, but it didn’t prevent this death or a similar one in December in which a woman died after receiving 40 lashes for sleeping with her stepson.
At least this time the government has taken action and arrested a Muslim cleric who sat on the Sharia Committee and three villagers, including the wife of the man involved in the incident.
Meanwhile, the government in Iran executes on average two people every day to implement Islamic law. Crimes subject to the death penalty include Apostacy, Murder, Armed Robbery, Drug Trafficking, Adultery and Rape. One of the latest people to fall foul of these laws was Abdolreza Gharabat. He claimed to be God and had succeeded in attracting a number of followers in the Khuzestan province. He was convicted of Apostacy and hanged on Wednesday. Surely his mental health must have been in question, to declare himself God in Iran and he should have received medical help instead of a death penalty. On the other hand, if he rises from the dead, he will certainly have a convincing argument.
Let us also remember the 35 people killed in clashes between Muslims and Christians last week in Nigeria and over 100 killed in another stampede at an Indian religious festival just over two weeks ago. Then there are the people of questionable sanity like Muzzammil Hassan and Miriam Smith. Mizzammil, on trial for the murder of his wife in 2009, claims that God gave him extra courage to kill her. Miriam was minding her nephew’s dog, a one year old pit bull, when it chewed her bible. She claims God told her it was a devil dog that had to be killed. She hung it from a tree, doused it in kerosene and set it on fire.
It all goes to show what can happen when people take religion too seriously. Thank God for Religious Apathy.
Evelyn Boyd, wife of a minister in Bartow, Florida, locked herself in her room to fast. She began fasting seriously in 2009 and had many long fasts including one of 40 days, although she did have some minimum sustenance in that one. On February 7th, she entered the room for the last time. Her husband wanted to check on her, but respected her need to be alone with God. Almost four weeks later they broke into the room to find her dead body.
Meanwhile in Miami, followers of healer Charles L. Stewart complained of being violently ill, losing weight and getting lumps in their stomach after digesting the mucus of Giant African Snails. The snails are prohibited in the US, as it can devastate ecosystems. Charles claims that the snails are used in his African religion as part of healing ceremonies.
Personally, I will be celebrating Saint Patrick’s day tomorrow with a creamy pint of Guinness. St. Patrick, sponsored by Diageo, should be recognised as the patron Saint of Guinness.